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ERS Linkage Podcast - Episode 20

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Together We Rise 

Date: October 7th 2020

Hosts: Bryan Reynolds & Kristin Davenport

Guests: Joy Blang and Bobby Maly


For our twentieth episode we hear from Executive Director of Philanthropy Joy Blang and Principal and CEO of The Model Group, Bobby Maly.

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Episode 20 Transcript

Bryan Reynolds [00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to Episode 20 of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. This episode is for the week of October 5th, 2020. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Bryan Reynolds, vice president of marketing for Episcopal Retirement Services, and I'm here with Kristin Davenport, as always, our director of communications for the ERS and our executive producer. How are you, Kristin?


Kristin Davenport [00:00:29] Doing well today, Bryan. Glad to be here. Hitting Episode 20. Feels like quite an accomplishment.


Bryan Reynolds [00:00:35] Yeah, absolutely. It's been, what, about six months now. So it's it's really great to keep this this going. It's been been a lot of fun. The Linkage podcast is dedicated to educating our audience about issues regarding aging, informing people about the mission of the ERS and how that comes to life in our everyday interactions with residents, clients, families and staff members. So, Kristen, we've got a great show lined up. You want to tell us what what we've got coming up?


Kristin Davenport [00:01:03] Our guests are really, really wonderful assets to the ERS organization for sure. We've got one of our partners who's a sponsor of the Gala and The Model Group. Their CEO, Bobby Maly's, going to be with you today. And then you also got a chance to catch up with Joy Blang. And Joy is going to talk all about the details of the Gala on Friday. And this is a busy week for us. It's going to be an exciting event, virtual event on Friday.


Bryan Reynolds [00:01:30] Both are wonderful. Really enjoyed catching up with Bobby and of course, Joy. That just will set up the whole whole evening coming up this Friday night for us all. So with that being said, you want to introduce our first guest?


Kristin Davenport [00:01:45] Absolutely. Bobby Maley is the principal and CEO of The Model Group. The Model Group's been a partner with ERS on our affordable living development projects for for many years. And our latest project, the Manse Hotel, the historic hotel in Walnut Hills, is being redeveloped right now. And it's an exciting project that's getting near the completion. We will have residents moving in hopefully before the end of the year at the very beginning of next year. So here's Bryan's interview with Bobby.


Bryan Reynolds [00:02:29] So I'm here this week with the principal and CEO of the Model Group, Bobby Maly. Bobby, how are you?


Bobby Maly [00:02:37] Hi. Good to be here.


Bryan Reynolds [00:02:39] Thanks so much for joining this week. And in the Model group and ERS have been great partners, cash for quite a long time. I was wondering, can you kind of talk about how we got started working together when it's about 10, 12 years ago?


Bobby Maly [00:02:56] Well, I think it may even go back a little further than that, actually. I think that my partner and our who started our company, I think he sold the ERS, his office building to ERS, which goes back decades. But no, I think in more recent history, our relationship really grew and started in earnest with St. Paul Village. The first phase of St. Paul village. And I think that that was really the impetus when the two of us came together, we both realized, well, when we work together, we can do something pretty great here. Now, St. Paul was, I believe ERS had a hard time and actually even before ERS was involved with St. Paul Jay, Brink was leading the charge at St. Paul Village.


Bryan Reynolds [00:03:51] Right.


Bobby Maly [00:03:52] And was having a real hard time figuring out how to do the renovations. Some of the operations were having a hard time making ends meet and certainly needed a lot of deferred capital work. And so I was just looking for different sources. Couldn't figure it out. I think had a few failed attempts. It just didn't work. And I think Jay and some others said, hey, who should we talk to? And I guess a couple of people pointed them to us. And we were able to, I think, reset the perspective that the Jay and ERS had with St. Paul Village. And I think, you know, if they ask from your side. But I think one of the things that we did was just start to ask questions and reframe the perspective of the property as a long term asset, something that we believe can be, you know, if it's affordable housing, it could be in some ways indistinguishable quality from any market rate housing other than finishes. But having all the important things like great community space, etc..


Bryan Reynolds [00:05:00] Yeah, yeah. I think I came in on the back end of that, finishing that project. And what just struck me was the quality of the work that you all had done. It was almost like living in a really nice hotel? Just walking through those halls and seeing all those manatees. So, yeah.


Bobby Maly [00:05:20] Yes. And, you know, that building had good bones to begin with. So there were some good designed to work from. But but you're right. Absolutely. That was the goal to make sure it felt like from the outside of the inside. You couldn't tell if this was housing for folks who may had less than 60 percent of the area median income. We wanted it to be indistinguishable. And know, I think in large part, we're able to accomplish that both through the development that we did together, as well as a lot of fundraising and relationships is what ERS always brings to the table, which have such a huge impact going through St. Paul Village today, many years after we did the construction there. And it still feels new. It still feels like a pretty special place, in large part because of all those relationships and resources you guys bring.


Bryan Reynolds [00:06:12] One of the things I hear about just time and time again from residents is just this is the nicest place I've ever lived. I mean, just that quality, I think.


Bobby Maly [00:06:21] It doesn't get old. That's for sure.


Bryan Reynolds [00:06:23] No, It doesn't. So I know there's been many projects over the years that we partner on. But what are some of the projects that we're working on now? I think about Schepper Ridge and obviously the Manse part of what we're highlighting in this one.


Bobby Maly [00:06:40] Yeah, Schepper Ridge in Northern Kentucky. And then, you know, we've got a few others underway. We're working on a few phases in Wilmington together. That's a campus that Model and ERS have been working on for a long time, basically committed to it prior to figuring out how we reconfigure and redevelop it. But we've got most of the development redevelopment underway at this point with a few phases. And so that that's I think we call that Prairie View in Prairie Gardens.


Bryan Reynolds [00:07:20] Right. Right.


Bobby Maly [00:07:22] So those are underway. And you know that that really is a campus in some ways will feel like St. Paul Village reminds me of that kind of feel that kind of a place with some great community space. The Manse... We've got this event coming up. You guys do this this Friday highlighting demands, obviously a very special property with with a lot of different components to it. This is one of my favorites. It's a good example of some of my favorite things that happened when our two organizations worked together. And then we're we're accomplishing so many things at one time. We're killing multiple birds with one stone. And with the Mans we are taking vacant lots, vacant blighted buildings. And what we're accomplishing, neighborhood revitalization goals around neighborhood anchors like Jim and Eddys and Thompson, MacConnell Cadillac, you've been there as neighborhood anchors for years. That's exciting. And we're also preserving a piece of history. And the Manse says, yes, we've all heard so much about, which we don't get to do that every day. But truly, a piece of history is a one of the the only black hotels in Cincinnati or in the Green Book, I should say, as a safe place for African-American travelers to to stay when they were in town. People like Jackie Robinson or Dizzy Gillespie. Yeah, that's pretty neat. And then, you know, the reason we do this every every day is to preserve affordable housing options for for our community seniors so they can stay in their community, but do it in a way that they're part of a part of a community inside their building in and out. And with the services that you're. Break. So that's one of my favorites that we're working on right now.


Bryan Reynolds [00:09:18] Yeah. You've been able to do so. You kind of mentioned that you've been you're able to preserve or transform a lot of these communities that have are really developing. But to be able to have affordable housing as part of that must must be really a special part of what you guys offer.


Bobby Maly [00:09:37] Again, back to your earlier question. I think we've worked so well together because the mission of our company is to positively transform communities. And so when we team up with the ERS, we get to do that in a much more powerful way than without ERS. And we've learned so much from working with you guys when we get to do high quality, affordable housing with ERS, that is bringing services and the attention to community in the building, which has such a ripple effect on the community outside the building on top of the neighborhood revitalization. That results from a lot of the products we're doing in urban core. It is the best of both worlds for us. Is that the two pieces of the what we do that get to combine together into some pretty powerful.


Bryan Reynolds [00:10:33] Yeah, and I think I can just tell you from my experience in having seen your work and seeing the work of the affordable living, those communities are truly gems. And, you know, bringing people together. And I think you mentioned that idea of these community rooms and I think we have some wellness programming's and be able to offer all that with safe, affordable housing is has been really special to watch that grow. I think I think we were had eight communities when I started and now up to twenty nine. And having partnered on probably almost all of those has been pretty special. I was.


Bobby Maly [00:11:06] I think so. Maybe except for one of them. One or two. But it certainly has been that the bulk of um and it certainly has been a complementary overlap for u.


Bryan Reynolds [00:11:22] And not only have you guys been great partners, but you've been sponsors of so many of our galas or past fundraising events. And a and just want to thank you so much for that support. But what is that meaning for The Model Group to have that sponsorship in addition to the positive partnership?


Bobby Maly [00:11:43] Well, we're I guess for us, it's it's not difficult because we're we're teammates and we're we're not as good at what we do without working with you guys. And we're just at our best. A lot of times when you are skill sets overlap and. We can't. I can't do what your organization does and vice versa. Yeah, well, that's why it's so good. But but for us, that's why, you know, we know how important because we see it all the time. The services that you bring to the residents of these buildings and buildings, that they're not paying enough rent to be able to provide the services. So we're creating a quality of life and community investment that doesn't happen without those intentional sponsorships or donations that you guys spend so much energy and effort to bring to bear. And to me, that's the secret sauce. Yes. That's what separates these from houses or apartment buildings or apartment units into homes and communities. That is the secret sauce. And absolutely worth investing in for all of us.


Bryan Reynolds [00:13:03] Well, I think, you know, through our market research and coming up with a tagline several years ago, we have kind of honed in on having a safe, comfortable community living. And you guys are such a big part of that. And thank you so much for that partnership and and your sponsorships and in helping make that happen.


Bobby Maly [00:13:23]  Yeah, the pleasure's ours.


Bryan Reynolds [00:13:28] Well, we'll have to catch up in the future. But thank you so much for coming on our our podcast. And we'll look forward to catching up soon.


Bobby Maly [00:13:36] OK, we'll see you this week.


Kristin Davenport [00:13:45] Bryan, it was great to hear from Bobby today. And we'll see him, I guess, Friday night.


Bryan Reynolds [00:13:51] Now, we've we've been on a journey for for quite a number of years together as they've really grown with us. I think we talked that we had one community at one point about 10 years ago, a little over 10 years ago, and now we're up to twenty nine. Serving 1,700 seniors. So Bobby certainly been and his team have been an integral part of that. And it was really, really fun to catch up with them on this podcast.


Kristin Davenport [00:14:19] You bet. And then more interviews pertaining to our Gala. We have a next guest is Jay Blang. Joy is our executive director of philanthropy for Episcopal Retirement Services. And Joy and Bryan are going to give us all the lowdown for our event this Friday. Together, we rise for a full Gala.


Bryan Reynolds [00:14:44] So I'm here this week with executive direct director of philanthropy, Joy Blang. Joy oversees our Episcopal Retirement Services Foundation. Welcome, Joy. How are you?


Joy Blang [00:14:58] Thanks. Hi. It's great to be here. I'm good, thank you.


Bryan Reynolds [00:15:01] Yeah. So we're so glad to have you on the eve of our virtual Gala coming up. But I thought maybe we'd start and just ask, you know, overseeing our philanthropy what what that means for ERS and everything that encompasses.


Joy Blang [00:15:18] Well,  ERS really has been rooted in philanthropy since the very beginning. We are in existence because of Charles Lee and other founders who really made a significant investment initially in the organization back in the 60s. And that has grown through the years. And we have many, many more donors have joined the effort. But we we really would not be the the strong, diverse organization that we are today without philanthropy. So we from the foundation, we work with annual gifts, the Good Samaritan Mission Fund that helps supports many of the programs and services and ministries day in and day out. We also work with donors to add new capital needs or initiate a new program or project. And finally, some donors choose to include us in their legacy, giving through their estate plans. And that helps contribute to the long term growth of our endowment and strengthening the organization.


Bryan Reynolds [00:16:24] Yeah. And you do so much. As you mentioned, there's such a rich tradition. And I think now you have a really great Web site that you put together that the ERS foundation and website that that you created that has a lot of great tools and great stories and content.


Joy Blang [00:16:47] Yeah, we're really pleased with that. I think it really can serve as a place for people to learn more about how philanthropy is making an impact on the lives of the people we serve, as well as the many different ways they might choose to become involved as well.


Bryan Reynolds [00:17:03] All right. Great. Well, like I said at the top of the interview, you've got a Gala coming up. And I was wondering if you could share with our listeners the details of the Gala. Kinda of a, who, what, why and when?


Joy Blang [00:17:19] Well, like so many of our nonprofit peers this year, this Gala is going to be completely different than anything we have ever done because we are going virtual. We just can't can't bring people together in one space like that. But we do feel like we can still bring people together. And we are very committed to making it an engaging evening that is entertaining, educational and inspirational for all who attend. It is an important opportunity for us to introduce people who are not quite as familiar with all the different facets of ERS to some different areas. Sometimes people only have one one specific part of the ERS that they're familiar with and don't know many of the other things that we do. Some of the people are new to our organization. And it's just an opportunity for those who are more closely connected to really feel a sense of pride in all that we are doing, especially in these very difficult times of Covid.


Bryan Reynolds [00:18:25] Sure. So so what are what are you supporting this year as kind of your main theme?


Joy Blang [00:18:32] So the theme for this year's event is Together We Rise, which is also a theme that we adopted for when Covid broke. And it's based on Abraham Lincoln, quote, The occasion is piled high with difficulty. We must rise to the occasion together. And what we have seen over and over and over again since Covid are people who are just stepping forward to do something heroic in ways big and small from our residents and their families who are so brave this bravely enduring all these challenges to our staff who are just going above and beyond each and every day to care for residents under more difficult circumstances and volunteers and donors who have stepped forward to help. And a whole lot of ways. So we really wanted to take the the evening out of that to really celebrate those individuals. We've had several people who've written in some really poignant letters sharing what the supporters and staff of the ERS really mean to them. So we'll be sharing those letters. So the first part I'll really be reflecting on, on these past six months and and looking ahead to.


Bryan Reynolds [00:19:56] Sure, so. So tell us a little bit about the program for the evening. It sounds like you've got some some some interesting things to share. I think you mentioned, of course, entertainment. But there's always kind of an educational component as well.


Joy Blang [00:20:13] We will be broadcasting live from the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, which is absolutely a gorgeous space, really an iconic hotel in our in our community here in Cincinnati. But it's at that venue has allowed us to really present a multimedia program that evening. So we were fortunate to have WRVO WTS, Curtis Fuller, who will serve as our master of ceremonies and to lead us through the night. We will be ending the night with the live jazz entertainment of the Mandy Gaines Quartet. She is just fabulous. She's performed several times, including four for our residents virtually and for our partners breakfast. So she's really, I think, one of the the best jazz singers in Cincinnati. And so we're really excited to bring that entertainment because we like I said before, we we appreciate people tuning into a Zoom Gala.


Joy Blang [00:21:16] We don't that that's not always people's preferred way of attending something like this. And we know there's some Zoom fatigue out there. So we really want to see it as our thank you to them to do as much as we can that night to make it fun and enjoyable. So they're having having a good time from the comforts of home.


Bryan Reynolds [00:21:36] You know, you've got you've always done a great job putting together confront bands, but this is almost like putting together a TV show.


Joy Blang [00:21:43] It's it's it's actually been a lot of fun to work on and just get a different challenge. But I will certainly look forward to the day that I can see everybody faces live again.


Bryan Reynolds [00:21:57] Right. Right. And of course, you'll have some discussion and kind of overview of of the Manse. I don't know if you can kind of tease that a little bit before before the program.


Joy Blang [00:22:09] Absolutely. Some of it. So what like we said before, every year we we pick a different area of ERS to really showcase at the Gala. And last year at the Manhattan Ball, we really were putting our focus on the work that we were doing in memory support. And I'm excited to share that since we were together last year. We have we have now since launched the Center for Memory, Support and Inclusion. So that was a big, big advancement thing, start philanthropy. And so I know that the recognition that that received at the Gala was very helpful in advancing that effort. So this year, we are shifting our focus to affordable living. And we are telling the bigger picture of of what we do and why it's so important and why it matters so much in the lives of our low income residents through the specific story of the s apartment project, which just has such incredible historic significance. As I know, Bobby has shared from the Model Group already today.


Bryan Reynolds [00:23:18] Right. Well, it sounds like an exciting evening if people want to attend or get involved or just support the Gala and order ah ah efforts to raise money. How can they do that?


Joy Blang [00:23:36] We are off to a great start. Thanks to our sponsors, they have really laid the foundation for success. So I want to, first of all, thank them, are presenting sponsors, particularly the model group Ridgestone Builders and developers, Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and U.S. Bank. So thanks to them and all of our other sponsors who not only support us financially, but do incredible work for us to enable us to do what we do. There's also plenty more opportunities for individuals to contribute. They're attending the event this year is free. We would love it if as many people as possible tuned in. So we didn't want to limit that with a ticket price. And we have that. We can accommodate that as many people. So that's that's the first of all, the good news is people can tune in without buying an advance ticket. However, there people are asking how they can help and get involved and support. So we have a couple of things. We have a donation page on our Gala Web site. We also have both a silent auction and what we are calling a pay it forward auction. This is something new for us this year. So the silent auction, we have tried to be really mindful of social distancing and being safe. And Laura, use the term safe nation the other day. We've all heard of staycation. But now now we're hearing about safe occasions. So we have things like a fishing retreat cabin in Dale Haloed Lake, Tennessee, and cottage up in Boin Highlands, Michigan.


Joy Blang [00:25:27] Closer to home and overnight at Hotel Covington, the the Model Group has offered to give a private tour of the Manse just prior to its opening early next year. And Geoff Sutton, who is a fabulous Walnut Hills historian, will accompany that.


Joy Blang [00:25:45] So so those kind of things, coach fragrance baskets, faux fur throws, you know, things to help people just, you know, treat themselves and stay cozy or maybe get a jump start on their holiday shopping. So traditional kind of silent auction things that we usually have but pay it forward auction is a little bit different. We've not done it quite this way before. It's really a little bit of a philanthropic twist on our silent auction. I often get people who ask me what does myhundred dollar donation or my two hundred fifty dollar donation or whatever amount. What does that really doing for ERS and the Good Samaritan because the Good Samaritan mission is so large. Right. And and it is important some sometimes people really just like to know what kinds of services their gifts are making possible. So they pay it forwar auction is it is a way to choose a program or a service that we offer under the Good Samaritan mission. And a category someone is most passionate about, maybe affordable living or Meals on Wheels or the Center for Memory Support Inclusion or one of our specific communities like Marjorie P. Lee or Deupree House and Cottages. And they can go in and get an idea if they want to make a five hundred dollar donation.


Joy Blang [00:27:10] They can see that, oh, you know what? That's going to provide 70 residents transportation for a month. And affordable living makes it more tangible. So so that that's what the pay it forward is. It's instead of receiving something that they will enjoy themselves, it's it's the gift of giving to someone else instead.


Bryan Reynolds [00:27:33] So if you could tell our listeners, I think the registration for the Gala and the link for the silent auction is on our Gala page. Can you give that web address that people can find that information?


Joy Blang [00:27:47] Right. The the main page for the Gala is It has everything you need to know about the events in the lineup, the activities and the what's planned for the evening. There is a way to register to attend the event, which basically helps us make sure we get the link to to the to those who want to attend. So there's a complimentary registration and there's also a way to make a donation outright. Right on that page. But there's also a link to the silent and pay it forward auction on that same landing page as well.


Bryan Reynolds [00:28:30] All right. All right. Well, I think that's all of the great, wonderful information about the Gayl. I'm really looking forward to it next week. Joy, thank you so much for joining us this week. And we'll look forward to bringing it back. Maybe talking on some other topics on philanthropy in the future.


Joy Blang [00:28:48] I will look forward to that, too. And just thank you for the opportunity to communicate with so many donors who are making so many wonderful things possible at ERS.


Kristin Davenport [00:29:06] Joy always has such a positive attitude about everything that's gone on. Anybody else can maybe look at what we've had to deal with over the last six or eight months here and not be determined to go on and fundraise and and just really help out the organization funding the services that are so needed by our affordable living residents, our Meals on Wheels clients, and so many other ways that we support our mission.


Bryan Reynolds [00:29:35] Yeah, she's done a wonderful job putting together this new virtual presentation of our Gala and we'll be really excited to share that on Friday. Well, Kristin, I think with that being said, that's the latest episode of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. For more information about us, you can visit our Web site at We have lots of great content, including our linkage online blog resources to learn more about aging and the services we offer and so much more. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube and see what's going on within your ask that our communities get any questions or feedback for us. Please email us at Linkage podcast that's produced by Kristin Davenport and Bryan Reynolds. Feoshia Davis is our associate producer. Our technical director is Michel Haine, was done an excellent job putting this show together. As always, I'd like to thank our guests today, including Bobby Maly and Joy Blang, and we'll look forward to catching up next week. Thanks so much, Kristin.


Kristin Davenport [00:30:45] Yes, I'll see you at the Gala on Friday. And, of course, next week with our next podcast.



Kristin Davenport
October 07, 2020
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director in Cincinnati. Kristin is passionate about making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city. She is a Lead SAIDO Learning Supporter and a member of the ‘Refresh Your Soul’ conference planning team at ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex, live in Lebanon, Ohio with their 2 daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon.

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